For those who receive TableTalk magazine from Ligonier Ministries, you know that this month's theme is "No Strings Atached: What Reformed Theology is Not". This edition does a decent job of looking at some of the misconceptions and misunderstandings of Reformed soteriology. However, my favorite part of the edition is the three articles at the end which are exhortations, possibly even rebukes, for those who already hold to Reformed beliefs. The main point is that often the invalid criticisms launched at Calvinists are sadly validated by the way in which we live. I will include some of the portions I found most beneficial as well as some personal commentary:
The first article is by Kenneth Jones, Pastor from Greater Union Baptist church in Compton, CA and co-host of White Horse Inn Radio.
In "Truly Reformed" he argues that "on the whole there is no shortage of good preaching and teaching in Reformed circles." "In addition," he continues, "there are conferences, books and a host of other resources out there." However, he asks the piercing question: "Is reading and hearing enough?" James, inspired by God, warns his readers that if we hear without doing then we are merely deceiving ourselves. Jones makes the point that knowing why Arminians are wrong is never an excuse not to evangelize. For those who truly comprehend the doctrines of Grace, it should never be said that we do not evangelize. Proclaiming the truth around the world should be of utmost importance. Few could dare look at Edwards, Whitefield, Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones, Packer, Kennedy, Piper, etc. and claim that "Calvinist don't think Evangelism is important". Yet, this is the very cry that is echoed every time this weighty matter is addressed. Possibly it is our own failures which are causing the confusion. Possibly this is a log in our eye that must be removed before we can surgically remove that speck.
The concluding article of this edition is by Albert Mohler Jr., President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His article, "Reforming our Mission" leaves the reader with this thought:
"Remember these witenesses the next time you hear that Reformed theology leads to a lessening of evangelistic commitment. Those who know that God saves and the purpose for which He saves, should be the most eager and faithful witnesses to see others come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Uncommitted to evangelism? That is what Reformed theology is not."
This is certainly said better than I could hope to muster so I will leave his words to speak for themselves.
My last concern is with personal piety. It is this very issue that led Wesley to vehemently oppose the doctrines of grace. Many have charged that Calvinist theology gives people a license to sin. While there is no truth to this claim, it is a claim that we should expect whenever Grace is boldly proclaimed. For example, the Apostle Paul in Romans shows the depravity of man and finally the grace of God. The 5th chapter of Romans ends with "Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more". Calvinists preach the very same grace. However, Arminians then call it a license to sin. We should have expected this. Paul certainly did! He continues in chapter 6, "What shall we say then? Are we to continue to sin so that grace may abound? May it never be!" Martain Lloyd-Jones is known for saying that if we are never accused of preaching antinomianism (Grace as License for Sin) then we are not preaching true Grace.
Having said that, Calvinists still face this charge daily. Why? I would dare to suggest that possibly we know the indicative statements of Romans 6 so well (We have been united with Him in the likeness of his death, certainly we shll also be in His ressurection, Etc.) that we have forgotten the imperatives (and do not go on presenting the members of your body as sin, etc). Oh, how I charge us all with the same exhortation Paul gave many years ago: "Present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship". We preach so passionately the doctrines of grace, as we should, for the glory of God, but it must never be that we forget to glorify God with our bodies.
In Christ alone,